By Mike Moran

People love to talk about whether you Web page is in the search index. The search index. Like there’s one. If only it were that easy. First off, there is at least one search index for every search engine, so Bing has one, Google has one, and so does every search engine in every country around the world. But it’s even more complex than that. Google and Bing have a separate search index for every country. And, in fact, they sometimes have multiple search indexes for a single country, when a country has more than one popular language. (I am looking at you, Switzerland.) So what does a search marketer do about making sure a Web page is in the right country index.

The language stuff works fairly well–Google and other search engines generally detect the proper language from the words on the page themselves, but country is another issue entirely. Most languages are spoken in multiple countries and it’s not possible today for a computer to correctly detect the language frequently enough–the search engines need our help.

In the old days of search marketing, this was a vexing problem. Search engines generally looked at only two things when deciding to put a page in a country index–the domain name of the site and the location of the server that hosted it. So, if your page was ibm.de, then it would correctly put it in the German index. Or if the Web server of that page was located in Germany, that worked, too.

But when I worked at IBM, there was no page for ibm.de–it was ibm.com/de–and it was located in a central server hosting site with 20 other country sites. And we were mostly out of luck if we didn’t want to change one of those things. Most multinational companies were in the same boat.

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